Mississippi Moves Forward: Felony Dog and Cat Cruelty & More

Posted by Stephan Otto, ALDF's Director of Legislative Affairs on April 1, 2011

A first-offense felony provision didn’t survive amendments, nonetheless, newly passed SB 2821 is a definite step forward for Mississippi.

Among other things — and while its main improvements are limited to dogs and cats — the bill, once signed into law:

  • Gets Mississippi off the no-felony-animal-cruelty list by making it a felony (punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment between 1-5 years) for a second or subsequent aggravated cruelty to dog or cat offense within five years of a first offense. This leaves just Idaho, North Dakota and South Dakota without any felony animal cruelty provisions.
  • Provides for reimbursement of costs of care for impounded dogs and cats
  • Provides for psychiatric evaluations and/or treatment for offenders.
  • Allows courts to prohibit offenders from employment involving the care of dogs or cats, or employment at a location where dogs and cats are kept.
  • Provides civil and criminal immunity for good-faith reporting of suspected cruelty to a dog or cat.
  • Expressly allows local laws that are more restrictive.

In addition, the enacted bill fixes problems with Mississippi’s existing animal cruelty law; a law which had been previously ruled unconstitutional by the Mississippi Supreme Court (Davis v. State, 2001). A comprehensive list of statutorily-protected activities (e.g. agricultural practices, hunting, research, etc.) was also included. The new law will take effect upon signing by the governor.

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